Email marketing touchpoints
Marketing SEO

Weekly SEO Tip: Email Teaches Content Marketers About First and Last Customer Interactions

As marketers, we are faced with unique challenges that are dictated by our audiences and made increasingly complex by new technologies. We talk a lot about how to optimize blog content or websites in our weekly SEO tip series, but until now, we have ignored email marketing, a practice that has helped many of you prove return on investment from your content marketing strategies through marketing automation software.

What does email marketing have to do with SEO, you ask? On the surface, not a lot. But I’m going to ask you to dive deeper into your creative thinking. A lot of what you know as a content creator applies to the way your brand produces emails.

Think about how you, as a consumer, engage with the dozens (hopefully not hundreds) of emails sent to your inbox on a daily basis. You start by skimming the subject lines and immediately deleting some messages. You are then left with a few that piqued your interest. You open them, check out the content, and then do one of three things: click through on the embedded link, click the back button and leave the message in your inbox, or archive or delete the email altogether.

The first and third options typically end there because you have made up your mind about that specific interaction. However, what happens to the emails that you’ve purposefully left in your inbox? You have neither clicked through nor have you deleted them entirely.

New data from Campaign Monitor shows how the average person behaves toward these messages, and the insight can help any marketer understand how to use these opportunities to re-engage an audience through email. This SEO tip requires you to combine your content creation wit with your marketing prowess:

Most Emails Opened on Mobile

There is no doubt that mobile has become the king of first interactions when it comes to email content. Campaign Monitor found that 41 percent of initial opens take place on mobile devices, compared with 28 percent on desktops and 22 percent on webmail.

Opens are not the same as click-throughs. Data also found that while opens have trended upward on mobile, clicks have declined by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013. Interestingly, aggregate open rates have stayed the same over the same period. That means people do eventually click, but it just doesn’t happen as often on mobile nor does it always happen on the first engagement.

Clicks as a Percentage of Opens

When you evaluate clicks as they pertain to open rates, you find that mobile devices are more for quick viewing, rather than long-term engagement. For example, Campaign Monitor compared clicks as a percentage of opens and found that mobile generates an 11 percent click rate, which is lower than desktop (14 percent) and webmail (19 percent).

The study concludes that “though mobile devices are growing in popularity for first-time opens, the trend suggests it’s becoming more difficult to turn those opens into clicks.”

Email Click PathThe Average Person Engages Several Times Before Clicking Through

The chart to the right shows the path that people take when interacting with branded email content. You can see that the most common and most complex path includes several touchpoints. After an email is opened on a mobile device and left in an inbox, 23 percent open a single message for a second time. Thirty percent of people then open that same message a third time on a different device, and 12.9 percent go on to engage with that email on a third device.

Mobile readers who open emails a second time from their desktop are 65 percent more likely to click through, according to the study.

So What?

You must approach all content creation strategies with a creative eye and an analytical mindset. By understanding how your audience behaves in response to your marketing messages, you will learn the best ways to optimize your content for maximum effect. It’s important to realize that readers likely engage with your online content similarly to how they interact with email—by coming back time and time again to review your thought leadership.

Are you measuring first and last interactions on your content to understand your buyers’ navigational path? The first click isn’t the be-all and end-all of content marketing. Therefore, set up your analytics platform to show you the whole picture in order to further optimize your content for the full buyers’ journey.

For more information on interpreting audience response to your content, request a demo of Skyword.

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